When you think of Germany, what comes to mind? Perhaps most travelers would say Oktoberfest with its neverending flow of beer, food and camaraderie, or perhaps you think of Berlin and the Berlin Wall; maybe you think of Opera and Classical music as Germany was the home of Brahms, Bach and Beethoven among others. Well I have a different view of Germany. When I think of Germany, I remember the incredible food and wine festivals I have attended for several years with my family. That’s right, I said wine! Germany is known in the world for its beer festival Oktoberfest which attracts over 6 million visitors from around the world on a yearly basis but perhaps the lesser-known wine festivals should also garner more attention.
Every year about a month or two before Oktoberfest, all over Germany you will see and hear people gathered in the streets, drinking and tasting all kinds of different wines all produced locally: Sweet, Semi, Brut, Reisling and Dry. There are German marching bands on every street and students performing music to entertain the guests as they walk around and enjoy the atmosphere. Everywhere you go you can smell the meats cooking on huge outdoor pits, often using medieval style tools to cook up a feast. The plates and portions are huge, allowing you to partake of many different meats to accompany your wine of choice. Of course you have the other traditional German foods like Bratwurst sandwiches served with mustard in a nice Pretzel bread or the fried potato cakes with an applesauce-type topping on the side reminiscent of Jewish Latkes; both typical meals in Germany. Not to mention all the homemade desserts you have access to: fruit tarts, Franzbrochten- a sweet, cinnamon bread, and Donauwelle- a cherry marbled sheet cake. You also have the opportunity to walk into a cellar where wines have been aging in barrels for years and to get a greater appreciation for the wine-making process.
At this time in the year, if you look closely as you drive in the countryside of small towns like Moselle, you will notice tons of grape vineyards that seem to go on forever. You can see the workers gathering the grapes and tending to the vineyards, preparing some of the best-tasting wines in the world.
Should you decide to attend one of these festivals, I strongly suggest going to the town of Trarben-Trarbach or Bernkastel in Middle Moselle. Moselle is a beautiful area, quiet and quaint with small streets and beautiful scenery and it is home to Bernkastel which is a an old castle that sits atop the most gorgeous mountain overlooking grape vineyards and a beautiful town. There are boat tours that will take you along the river below the castle so you can sip on wine and enjoy the most breathtaking views of the town. Bernkastel is a great place that showcases ancient German architecture and combines it with great hospitality and a very lively atmosphere. Imagine all the beautiful pictures one can take in such an exquisite location! I hope that this article will allow others to not just unfairly consider France the home of wine but to open up your mind (and your palate) to German wines as well.